As I sit writing this post, I am in my local coffee shop. Clusters of families stream through the doors at an elevated rate thanks to Christmas and Hanukkah being right around the corner. Some families laugh, hug, and appear charged up by their collective coming together. Others appear tense, exhausted, and forlorn as they soldier through their day – gritting their teeth for the days ahead.

This year, I will celebrate Christmas without a handful of family members. As you will learn in my book, I had to permanently sever my relationship with my mother and my relationship with my sister and her clan is on what can best be described as a very long pause – thanks to absorbing one too many toxic blows. And as much as I feel great freedom and lightness from being released from the obligation of spending time with those members of my family, there is still a sense of sadness. Truth is, realizing that key members of your immediate family are NOT your tribe is a tough pill to swallow. Many choose to remain with family members like this and do their best to mitigate the damage while some of us choose to abort those relations. Never an easy choice no matter what choice you make.

When I found myself staring down the barrel of vacating several seats at my family table a year ago, I found great comfort in the notion of Kula, which you will hear more about in the book. To shorthand it here, “Kula” is a Hindu term that has been translated to mean “a community of the heart, a group coming together of its own free will, an intentional community and a family.” It is a community, and it is a family. But what stands out to me about this translation are the phrases “of the heart” and “intentional.” For me, a Kula is this:

“An intentional community of the heart.”

This holiday season, I won’t be spending time with my family. Instead, I will be merrily spending it with my Kula. The people who inspire me, who really – and I mean really – know me, who make me laugh, who can touch tenderness with compassion, and who leave me better off after every single interaction. My Kula does consist of some traditional family members but it is no longer limited by it. And while there will surely be more pangs of sadness as I scan the holiday scene and see generations of families together – a scene I will know no longer – I am filled with immense gratitude for who I DO have in my life and the freedom I granted myself when I made my rather unconventional decision to clear out damaging relationships.

I know this isn’t the “feel good”, tie-it-up-in-a-big-red-bow kind of post that so many people gravitate toward this time of year. But neither is my situation. And the thing is… I’m okay with that. Here’s to the holidays and wishing each of you peace, abundance, joy, compassion, and love for yourself and your Kula.

With love,

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Halley Bock is the author and founder of Life, Incorporated.

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